Do Unto Others This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Do Unto Others

by Emily F., Scituate, MA I am often disappointed by people's attitudes toward the homeless. Often when I am in the city, I am discouraged by my companions. "They're only going to spend your money on booze," they say. I've accepted this excuse many times. Rarely did I consider the pasts of these homeless men and women sleeping on the cold sidewalks. I never thought they might be mothers or fathers, who had families, but tragically lost everything. "Besides," I'd tell myself, "plenty of other people give them money and take care of them." Never did I realize the hardships they endured or the reality of their lives until I had the privilege of volunteering at a homeless shelter in Boston.

I had worked there with a church group, but this would be different. I would be by myself in a city I hardly knew. On my first day, I was asked to work in the kitchen.

As people filed in that first day, I had a sick feeling. Seeing their filthiness made me feel dirty until I looked in their eyes. As I scooped mashed potatoes onto their plates, their expressions spoke to me through their proud smiles. I saw the pain and loneliness in their eyes. These were not merely homeless alcoholics or junkies; these were real people who did not deserve such a fate.

Many faces became familiar as I grew more proficient at my work. No longer do I make excuses or turn away when I see a homeless person asking for money. Instead I try to give them as much as I can; I look in their eyes as equals, and ask how things are going, even if I don't know them.

I discovered the importance of respecting all people, as I want to be respected. The only advice I'd give you is to open your eyes and hearts to these people. We are no better than they, just more fortunate.

I'll never forget my friends from the shelter. Their smiles and lonely expressions will always be in my memory. And though I didn't get paid, I was rewarded with much more. I now realize how important that "job" will be in my future.

A tract that is handed out to homeless by street ministries says this: "Jesus was homeless ... He was rejected ... He was accused of being a drunkard ... thought to be crazy ... Jesus knew what it was like to by hungry, thirsty, and tired." Perhaps we should picture Him when we see "them" on the streets.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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